Monthly Archives: December 2010

Where Was the Salt? Not on Westminster Road.

John J. Doherty

Mike Bloomberg said that budget had nothing to do with the screw-up. He also avoided admitting any management errors — even his own, when he hamstrung veteran Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty. He placed Doherty under the control of a new deputy mayor whose nominal assignment —  operations — took a back seat to his obligation to trim the budget. Continue reading

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(Class) Size Matters, but Power Matters More

Leonie Haimson

Leonie Haimson needs help. New York’s most passionate education blogger has not appreciably changed the way the city’s public schools are run. A persistent critic of Mike Bloomberg’s educational policies, and president of a group called Class Size Matters, Haimson gets noticed but continues to be shrugged off by City Hall.

It doesn’t matter how many “ordinary” New Yorkers agree with Haimson. City voters have almost no power to shape municipal policy. They lost most of their clout two decades ago when they approved a new government structure that gave the mayor almost sole control over the city’s budget, land use, contracts, and, de facto, over the City Council itself. (Most Council members would deny this.)

Even a local referendum to change the city charter can be preempted by the mayor. Today, New Yorkers usually must resort to litigation or to state intervention to derail an initiative the mayor truly wants. Continue reading

Irony

Crain’s New York Business just ran a web piece about the latest annual survey of poor New Yorkers by the Community Service Society.

The story, headlined “Report: Recovery brings no respite for NY’s poor,” told of the increasing difficulty that low-income New Yorkers are facing as 2011 approaches. Low income is defined as less than $44,100 annually for a family of four.

Tag-Heuer Monaco V4

The item was paired with a holiday-season ad for  Tag Heuer wristwatches, which range in price up to $80,000.

Tax Cut Extender: Boon to Charter Schools

Illustration: FRBSF

Charter schools are among the big winners in the tax cut extender deal signed into law on December 17 by President Barack Obama.

Section 733 of H.R. 4853 provides for an additional $7 Billion in 2010/2011 New Market Tax Credits, an economic development program created in 2000 during the Clinton Administration.

So-called Community Development Entities can apply for these tax credits on behalf of non-profits such as charter schools, and package them for wealthy investors who use the credits to reduce their own IRS obligations. To someone in the highest tax bracket, the after-tax equivalent return on such an investment can be about 10-12% per year, with minimal risk. Continue reading